I recently read an article on the lies that society feeds us about singleness. Writer Natalie Floyd took the time to explore “Three lies culture tells us about being single” and while there may be more than three lies out there, I thought the three she selected were worth further unpacking.
Natalie spoke of the “lie” or assumption people often make about single people’s private lives, namely that privacy does not apply. At least, it certainly appears that way, from the manner in which people invade the privacy of the single person’s life and often without warning.
This is something to which I can relate. When I was single I had almost-strangers in church ask me how my love-life was going. It was tough to reply politely while retaining my dignity, I can tell you. How I wanted to ask them the same question in retort. But I just don’t care enough about other people’s sex lives. Maybe it’s just me.
Here’s a couple of hints for handling this type of situation: we’re under no obligation to answer personal questions, especially from people we don’t know. I’ve gotten better at saying, “Actually, I don’t discuss my personal life.” We need to let people know when they’ve crossed the line.
If you have asked someone such a question out of well-meaning interest, may I suggest there’s a time and a place for that. A public arena such as church is not it. Questions about a person’s welfare are better posited over coffee or at least in a setting more confidential. If the other person welcomes your question then by all means discuss their dating life, but if they are hesitant then leave it alone. There is a plethora of alternative topics of conversation from which we may choose.
Another lie expounded in the article refers to the myth of singles having more free time than anyone else. I have blogged about this before but it bears repeating. Folks who are stressed up to the eyeballs with screaming kids and piles of laundry can mistakenly assume that singles do have more free time. This could possibly be about jealousy or resentment, rather than being an accurate reflection of the single life.
Sure, singles may have more mental time if they aren’t constantly being jumped on (by children I mean), however to assume that they are always free is devaluing of the single person.
Many single folk have multiple commitments, get called upon for favours frequently (because everyone assumes they are available) and work full-time in order to meet their financial obligations. They may genuinely want to serve others but even these may also enjoy a break once in a while.
Additionally, singles are the ones attending other peoples’ ceremonies, looking on supportively at weddings and baby showers while not having any “ceremonies” of their own. They are the ones going unnoticed and uncelebrated.
The last point relates to how some singles are not considered real adults, as though marriage is some rite of passage into adulthood. I recently spoke with a 61-year-old single woman who said she was still referred to as a “girl” in social circles. Why we insist on seeing singles as less mature, incomplete or still developing compared with those who are married, I’ll never know.
The deeper we go into the lies and myths surrounding singleness, the more we discover how our values and assumptions may have marginalised the singles in our circles. Some of us have engaged in value judgments about others based on their marital status. This is contrary to God’s perception of people, which is heart-based and without favouritism.
May we recognize the service and value of the singles among us. In so doing, may we glorify the God who loves us all the same.
Read Natalie’s full article here.